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Will I get half of my spouse’s business in a divorce?

When assessing the pros and cons of divorce, you need to understand how it will affect your finances. While you might give anything to escape your marriage, leaving with nothing would be a mistake.

Massachusetts divorce courts use the principle of equitable division when it comes to divorce, so you need to divide your marital assets and debts. Equitable does not mean equal, however. When it comes to splitting up a business, things can get very complicated, very fast. 

You might not be entitled to any of your spouse’s business

If your partner already had the company before they married you, it could still be their separate property. If so, they do not need to share it with you. Similarly, you may be due no part of the business if you signed a prenuptial agreement that excluded it from the marital pot.

You could be entitled to just a share of its value since your marriage began

Absent a prenup, you could be entitled to a share of the business your spouse owned prior to your marriage if the value of that business has since increased.

For example, let’s say the company was valued at $1 million when you married, and it is now worth $2 million. You may be able to argue for a share of the $1 million difference — since that was gained during your marriage.

You may be able to leverage your share of a business for other assets

Sometimes it is better to let your spouse keep the whole of their company, even if you are entitled to a share. It allows you to get a clean break from each other. Remember, a business is only one of the assets you own. In return for letting your spouse keep 100%, you may be able to take something else instead, such as the family home. Rather than leaving the decisions to a judge, consider using mediation to help you reach an agreement where you both choose what you wish to keep.